Sunday, January 29, 2012

COMMENTARY: Angst and Poetry

I have a fascination with a certain emotion I have often referred to as “angst”. I realize I am not quite using the term correctly, as angst is technically defined as “a feeling of dread, anxiety or anguish”. What I mean when I say angst is more accurately described as some sense of emotional anguish related to darkness, sadness and loves lost or love unreturned.

So now that you know what I mean when I say angst, here are my two cents.

I love reading an entirely angst-ridden story with lots of anguished, unrequited love and painful near-misses, losses and sadness. Nicholas Sparks is the king of this genre of fiction. You’ve seen The Notebook, right? Some of his other notable selections include Message in a Bottle, The Wedding, and Dear John (reviewed here).

When I was a teenager, I was the queen of angst-ridden poetry. I wrote such titles as “The Crier”, “The Pain of Love” and “The Empty Kiss”. I look back on those now and just chuckle. How naïve we are as we walk through those puppy-love years and think every little loss is the end of the world. Some kids aren’t so lucky and do have to deal with real gut-wrenching losses during those formative years (I know this from watching my younger siblings grow up without our mother). But I was lucky and the worst thing that happened to me during those angsty, pre-teen and teen years was having a few boys who didn’t like me nearly so much as I liked them. It was easy for me to feel like that was the end of the world, of course.

My grandfather had instilled a love of poetry in me when I was young. He gave me an old copy of “101 Famous Poems” (copyright 1929) that had been given to him second-hand in 1946. Both the inscription from “Mr. & Mrs. Gustuvke” from 1946 and the inscription from my grandfather in 1985 are still quite visible inside the front cover. This book is one of my most treasured possessions. It contains such greats as “Trees” by Sergeant Joyce Kilmer (“I think that I shall never see/A poem as lovely as a tree”), “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley (“Out of the night that covers me/Black as the Pit from pole to pole/I thank whatever gods may be/For my unconquerable soul”), and “In Flanders Fields” by Lieut.-Col. John McCrae (“In Flanders fields the poppies blow/Between the crosses, row on row”). Some of my favorites.

Having the poetic guidance of that book led me to write many an angst-ridden poem, which was a great outlet during my hormone-laden teen years.

Here’s a little sample:

I wept for you,
And at some distant point
I know why

But for now
The sobs are enough

And the tears fall
And the memories fade
And the pain is strong

But at some distant point
There is sunshine

Hmm……something about reading through those old poems makes me feel a little nostalgic. Perhaps the reason I like books of angst-ridden, unrequited love now is because it reminds me of those times when I was actively stimulating my creative mind on a regular basis by writing. I haven’t written poetry in many, many years. Instead, I’m sure I will continue to fill that little spot in my soul by reading those novels about heart-rending, unrequited love and anguish. Or maybe one of these days I’ll dust off my writing pen and see what I can come up with.

(Painting is a portion of The Scream by Edvard Munch, one of my all-time favorite paintings, for obvious reasons.)

No comments:

Post a Comment